Kings Post Draft Analysis

By Tony Calfo
The Kings left Calgary with more questions than answers last week after taking a serious blow in the loss of Sean O’Donnell and the rumours about Eric Lindros coming to Los Angeles. Where do the Kings go from here, and just how did they do in Calgary?

The weekend didn’t exactly get off to the best start when the Kings lost Steve McKenna and Sean O’Donnell to the expansion Minnesota Wild on Friday. The Kings went through some painful growing pains with Sean O’Donnell to see him become a solid defenseman. Now another team, almost certainly a contender by year’s end, will enjoy the fruits of the Kings labors. On paper, the King lost their #3 defenseman who is in his prime, was a feared fighter, and was a leader in the clubhouse. They also lost a fringe enforcer in McKenna. The biggest losses will be felt in the locker room where Mac and Odie were well liked and looked to as leaders. McKenna will be a hit with Minnesota because of his size and personality, and I personally saw some improvement in his skills this season. On a team with other enforcers, McKenna could grow into a contributor. O’Donnell has become a physical, stay at home defender who could either be a captain or great trade bait to a contending team. Either way, it leaves the Kings already softening lineup with no enforcer and no blue liner who will drop the gloves. With Galley, Odie and a likely Berg holdout, the Kings are in trouble where they were once strongest.

As for the draft, the Kings did find a defenseman who can help next season in Andreas Lilja and an extremely skilled player in Frolov. My only problem is that Frolov will likely be the top forward in the organization, and he is half way around the world. I would like to have seen the Kings pick someone who will play in North America, who fans can more easily follow and the organization can more easily monitor. Nonetheless, Frolov will be a star someday. Speed and size is a rare combination, and he has it.

The Kings did what they needed to in adding some skilled forwards like Yanick Lehoux, Dan Welch and Tim Erickson. Replenishing the system with skill was a priority and they addressed that. They also have a couple intriguing picks. Undersized defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky and oversized goaltender Nathan Marsters are interesting picks. Visnovsky clearly fits in the Kings plans as a nice complement to the hoard of big defensemen in the system and with a deep goaltending system, 6’4″ Marsters offers the size in net that no one else in the pipeline offers. I think these were both good picks and I think Visnovsky may turn out to be a physical, agitating blueliner in the mold of Darius Kasparitis.

Finally the Lindros situation. I may be alone on this, but I make that deal. If the Kings can get away with Berg and a couple of picks that would be contingent of Lindros’ playing time, I do that. Despite what that blockhead Bobby Clarke says, Lindros is an enormous talent. His concussion problem may take him out for some time, but when he returns, he will be hell bent on showing Philadelphia what they missed. Lindros is a great, great player and eventually, technology will catch up to his concussion and he will be able to resume playing. He is what the Kings have long coveted- a big center with skill and grit and sometimes to make an omlette you need to break a few eggs. It’s a risk I would take.